Friday, July 2, 2010


This was another exercise, more just trying to get a voice going and work with a flow.

It took eighteen years for me to come to this realization.

It was 1982, and I shot a man. We had been drinking, vodka he called it, from his own personal still. It was horrible stuff, but it was free and I wanted the buzz. We were six or seven shots in, when I turned to him and said. “This is shit,” holding my glass up to him.

We both laughed, the laugh of the drunk, and he replied, “Yeah, but it’s my shit, and it will get better, I just need more time.” His name was John.

He’d never get more time. The next day was when I shot him. I woke up, just like any other day, even the massive hangover was familiar, and got dressed. I remember it was the dead of winter, and I put on two sweaters, both dull gray, and moth-eaten. It was all I had.  I opened into the top drawer of my cabinet, and pulled out the pistol I kept there. I didn’t even know what kind it was, all I knew is that the guy that sold it to me told me it worked and handed me ten bullets with it. My hands roamed around the drawer, all ten bullets were still there. I pulled one out and loaded it into the pistol.

I walked down the stairs of the flat I shared with John in the slums, and found him outside working on his truck. It was a dreary morning, like most were, are still. I said hello, then shot him. One shot, to the back of the head, I remember it being messy.

The police came, I confessed, and I was locked up. Pretty simple story. No one could explain why I did it, not even me, until now.
* * * * *
Ten years before the shooting, my brother, Timothy, and I had been out playing in the street. A drunk driver came by, swerving down the road, probably going about forty or fifty, and hit Timothy, before speeding off. Timothy died from that accident, and I was haunted by the driver’s face for years, until I finally had to see a hypnotist who suppressed all of those memories.

Life had gotten back to normal when I met John, working on a construction site some eight years after the death of Timothy. I got to know John pretty well, we began hanging out together, drinking together, until finally, both broke, we decided to split rent on an apartment.
* * * * *
As I sit here, strapped on to the gurney, all of my appeals run out, a doctor on hand, John’s face stares out at me from behind the wheel.


J. A. Platt said...

That was creepy. But in a good way!

...handed my ten bullets with it. Should the 'my' be 'me' here?

Didn’t know why, until now that is, why that day was different, maybe I had blocked it out of my head, maybe I had forgotten, maybe I hadn’t wanted to think about it. This breaks up the flow of the paragraph a bit. It's all action before and after it. You could probably get away with leaving out (since you explain the repressed memories later) or move it to it's own paragraph.

Also, I love the detail that he doesn't know anything about the gun.

Jonathan Martin said...

I see what you are saying and you are right (on both counts), fixed the my -> me and also the paragraph does read better that way, i took it out.

alphabete said...

What a tale. A life for a life, and then again, for a life. The bit about John's face staring at him, wow. That really conjured up some mental pictures for me, especially since he is strapped down and at the end of his time. How amazing that you managed to tell such a big story here, and one that resonates so clearly.

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